By DON GLYNN
Niagara Gazette — While attendance and revenue in the Niagara Falls State Park were down earlier in 2013 — compared with a year ago — the pace has quickened since a dramatic increase over the long Independence Day weekend.
"We had been down overall by 4 percent and that was due to the late opening of the Cave of the Winds," said Ron Peters, deputy general manager for the state parks commission-western district. Peters presented an updated report during the commission meeting Wednesday in the Niagara Falls Culinary Institute.
Peters noted that sales of the popular Discovery Pass — a single admission — are up 32 percent this year over the same period a year ago. The pass ($33, adult and $26, children 6 to 12) includes admission to the Niagara Adventure Theater, Aquarium of Niagara, Cave of the Winds, Niagara Gorge Discovery Center and the Maid of the Mist. The Niagara Scenic Trolley fleet also reported its passenger volume up 28 percent.
In other action at the meeting:
• Chairwoman Cindy Letro introduced the new commissioners appointed by Gov. Andrew Cuomo: Tom Yots, executive director of Preservation Buffalo Niagara; Stuart H. Angert, an investments and private equity specialist; and Ida Massaro, a teacher for 37 years in the Niagara Falls School District, now part-time at Niagara Street School. Retiring commissioner Harvey N. Albond also was a guest.
• Regional parks director Mark Thomas said his office will arrange special tours of the state parks in Niagara and Erie counties to provide the commissioners with a better understanding of the properties and an update on various projects. Aside from the Niagara Falls State Park, the commission oversees 16 parks in the region.
• At present, the commission has 158 full-time employees and 295 seasonal workers. The full-time count is down 42 since 2008 and, officials say, it is unlikely that will change due to the prolonged hiring freeze.
• Dave Szuba, the former capital facilities manager here, has been transferred to the Allegany State Park region.
• The next commission meeting is set for 10 a.m. Oct. 22 at the Prospect Park Administration Building.